Matthew Kessenich's Commentary

Posted September 8, 2005 (user submitted)

I thought you might be interested to hear about one small mall that escaped death recently!

In Salisbury, NC stands Salisbury Mall which I would estimate to be about a 120,000 Square Foot mall. I moved to Salisbury in 2001 and the mall was very much in disrepair. Occupancy was under 50% and all three anchors (Belk, Goody's, JC Penney) seemed to be experiencing extremely slow traffic. The interior of the building appeared original and poorly kept featuring dirty brown brick walls and extremely dingy small yellow/brown tile. The parkinglot was also in disrepair and the former Salisbury Mall Cinema was boarded up and looked about ready to collapse.

However, in 2003 developers bought the mall and claimed that they were going to make it "the place to be in Rowan County". I really thought it was no more than a ploy to try and get people to come back to shop a little before tearing the place down for a Wal-Mart or some such thing. Fortunitely I was wrong.

They began a major restoration effort in late 2003 and it has now been completed. The company smartly left the exterior of the building original as it is not a bad looking mall and only changed it at the main entrance. The change they made was definitely for the better! They installed a fairly impressive statue/fountain at the entrance and brought in a very nice sports bar/steak house at that entrance and created a new facade for the restaurant. That addition alone brought many people and some much needed life to the old mall. The steak house stays packed and brings in many patrons during sporting events. It really was a wonderful idea to breathe life into the old mall.

After those two additions they turned to the interior and they have done a wonderful job! There was only one empty storefront on my last visit and it even appeared to be readying for a new tenent. The dingy tile was replaced with very nice bright marble looking tile and the nice sized fountain in the food court was restored to brilliance. New stores have come in at a great pace and include a Great American Cookie Co/TCBY in the food court, Tuesday Morning, Books-A-Million and even an indoor miniature golf course that has been a big hit. This has also breathed life back into all three anchors and the mall parking lot stays very full with long walks to the door especially on weekends.

I thought you might find this story interesting as some creative techniques were used to breathe life into this dying mall with great success. I guess not all of these older, smaller malls have to fall to the hands of the new giants.

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